This article provides an insight based on the international guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the doctors at AMRI Hospitals on the use of masks at home, when outdoors, at hospitals or health centers, or in areas that contain active or reported cases.
As per latest research, Corona virus is transferred through respiratory droplets. Recently, the WHO brought forward in its notification that COVID-19 can be communicated from one individual to another through direct contact, even if the individual had shown no symptoms.
While researchers are divided over the effectiveness of wearing a mask, it is yet recommended and believed that masks can prevent transmission of the virus.
Apart from following the norms of social distancing, hand-washing, and avoiding large public gatherings, wearing masks is one of the most prominent guidelines that needs to be followed.
According to the suggestions of the WHO, individuals around somebody who is infected with COVID-19 or has symptoms like sneezing, coughing, fever, etc must wear a mask. Since there is less availability of proper medical masks, which are more required by health care workers, others in less risk settings can use cloth masks. In case one fails to adhere to norms of social distancing, one must wear a mask as a preventive measure. Senior citizens or individuals with major medical problems should try to avoid social gatherings and in case they fail to do so, they must wear a medical mask to avoid exposing themselves to COVID-19.
Broadly categorizing, there are majorly three to four kinds of masks you can use:
• Surgical Masks
• Fabric Masks
• N95, FFFP2, etc that can serve the purpose of respiratory masks
Surgical Masks are referred under personal protective equipment that provides a protective covering, but only against large droplets of cough, sneeze, or any involuntary mouth exhalation. These masks should be for personal use alone and must not be shared with anyone else.
Respiratory masks shields your face from infectious agents by sealing your nose and mouth from exposure. These masks are expensive than others and are deemed as appropriate for those working in a healthcare set-up or around patients infected by COVID-19.
Fabric masks are coverings that can easily be stitched, or bought. According to the Centre for Disease Control in the USA, fabrics can be used to make a piece of covering that shields your nose and mouth. These can easily be washed and reused.
Common steps that SHOULD be followed while using a mask:
✓ Wash your hands properly before wearing a mask
✓ In case you're using a medical mask, check for any holes or tears
✓ Make sure your nose and mouth is covered completely
✓ Do not leave any gaps on the sides of your face
✓ Do not touch your face after wearing the mask
✓ Before removing a mask, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water
✓ Wash your hands once again after removing the mask
✓ Take off a mask by holding its strings, not from the front
✓ If your mask is not dirty and you plan to reuse it, put it in a clean plastic bag
✓ Discard a mask in a dustbin with a closed lid
✓ In case of a fabric mask, wash it in hot water and soap, which will help in disinfecting it properly
× Do not use a damaged or a wet mask
× Do not wear a mask that does not fit your face
× Avoid touching the center of the mask
× Do not leave your mask at an odd or dirty place
× Do not wear a mask that just covers your mouth
× Do not wear a mask that makes you feel suffocated
× Do not share a mask you have once worn with anyone else
Wearing a mask is only a preventive measure. Try to avoid public gathering if possible and avoid close physical contact with others; maintain distance and wash your hands often
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